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Trip Report    

Glacier Climb - Mount Baker/Coleman Glacier

Fast-changing snow conditions over a sunny Memorial Day weekend. Roman Wall was in fine shape.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • A few small crevasses on the flat part of Coleman Glacier.  The snow on Roman Wall was ideal: hard but not icy in the morning, soft but not slushy during the day.

11 climbers (3 rope leads and 8 basic students) departed Heliotrope Ridge trailhead at 9:00am on 5/28.  Continuous snow covered the trail after about a mile, but well-established boot-pack made way-finding easy.  A partially melted snow bridge across Kulshan Creek made the crossing somewhat treacherous.  The party made camp near the saddle ESE of point 7242 of Heliotrope Ridge at 1pm.
We spent the afternoon lounging and practicing avvy companion rescue.
Rope teams were ready to move at 3:15am on 5/29.  Conditions were perfect: clear skies, not too cool (and not too hot, until the sun was well up), snow hard enough for crampons but not too hard or icy.  We had to step across one small exposed crevasse on the Coleman Glacier.  Reached the Colfax/Baker saddle at 5:20am.  Roman Wall had plenty of snow, so it wasn't too steep.  We placed one picket on the way up, mostly to practice clipping.  Reached the summit plateau at 7:30am.  Clear blue skies gave excellent views in all directions.
After 20 minutes at the top, we headed back down, reaching camp without incident at 11:00am.  We took a break, broke camp, and headed out.
The party opted to glissade where possible.  While glissading down a slope from 6600 feet to 6200 feet, the first climber down flew over a narrow crevasse opening.  He signaled the other climbers to stop their glissades immediately.  All had agreed the slope looked safe from above, and none remembered the crevasse being evident on the ascent the day before.  It had been a warm few days.  Snow must have been melting very quickly.
The rest of the descent was uneventful.  The party reached the trailhead at 3pm.